Ten jobs for Ecclestone – one year on

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Bernie Ecclestone at Indianapolis in 2007. Hopefully he\'ll be visiting again soon.
Bernie Ecclestone at Indianapolis in 2007. Hopefully he'll be visiting again soon.

Last year I wrote an article suggesting ten things Bernie Ecclestone should do to improve F1.

He probably doesn’t read this site (although Max Mosley does read F1 blogs) but I wondered how many of the problems he had tackled in that time.

When I looked back at my original post I was surprised how many points Ecclestone has turned his attention to. But I still think there’s a lot more work to be done.

High-def advert-free F1 coverage

Those of us in Britain should be able to see live F1 without the interruption of adverts next year, thanks to the BBC taking the rights from ITV. Rumours suggest BBC will offer high definition coverage as well.

That?s fine for those of us in Britain but what about the rest of the world? Other motor sports such as NASCAR have been available in crisp, clear, vivid HD for years. All F1 fans should have the option to watch Formula 1 without adverts, even if it means paying a subscription for it.

Online F1 video

Again, those of us in Britain are lucky as ITV has begun covering the sport online this year and that is expected to continue with the BBC in 2009. Hopefully they will expand it to include free practice three as well as one and two.

But the large numbers of people who join in the F1 Fanatic Live Blogs during race weekends looking for hacked versions of the ITV feed they can view from outside Britain shows the rest of the world wants to watch F1 live online as well.

F1 in America

Last year I asked:

How on earth has Ecclestone let F1 get into a position where it no longer has a race in one of the most lucrative and important markets in the world?

Unfortunately that still applies. The United States is missing again from the 2009 F1 calendar. Even F1 drivers like Nick Heidfeld are saying it should be brought back and it’s clear from feedback on this blog fans inside and outside America want the sport back in the States.

More teams

The shortage of teams in F1 has gotten worse in the past 12 months.

This time last year we were looking forward to Prodrive joining to make a 24-car grid. But the FIA failed to get the customer cars rule passed so Prodrive couldn?t enter, Super Aguri collapsed and the future of Toro Rosso is in doubt.

Admittedly the quality of the ten teams in F1, which includes six manufacturers, is excellent. But it?s far too few. A miserable grid of 20 cars in the vast setting of Shanghai or Sepang looks awfully small.

Hit Mosley with the rule book

The point of this suggestion was that Formula 1?s rules have become far too complicated and need simplifying.

Unfortunately as we all know Mosley is rather too fond of being hit by things, so I?m not sure walloping him with the technical regulations would have the desired effect of concentrating his mind on making them briefer.

Decent F1 racing game

Full marks to Ecclestone for not continuing the contract with Sony to produce the official F1 game. I have a few reservation about how good a job Codemasters will do but I?ll wait until I?ve played the final game before passing judgement.

A lot of fans are very keen to see Codemasters make a good job of the official 2009 F1 game ?ǣ just look at the exhaustive list of suggestions left on this article.

Sort out Silverstone

There?s been progress on the British Grand Prix but not really what we were all expecting. Ecclestone claims the race will be held at Donington Park from 2010 but can it possibly be ready on time?

If it isn’t, Ecclestone insists the race won’t go back to Silverstone, which would mean no British Grand Prix. That would be just as poor an outcome for F1 as there being no American Grand Prix.

Calendar with over 20 races and some regularity

The omission of the United States aside, Ecclestone made some notable improvements with the 2008 and provisional 2009 F1 calendars. The five-week gap between two races in last year?s calendar was closed, and next year there will be 19 races.

He?ll have a tough job getting the teams to agree to an even longer calendar, but I hope he does.

Promote F1 and bring more fans in

A glance at F1.com makes it pretty clear that Formula One Group does not give an awful lot of thought to how to engage with fans and bring new viewers to the sport.

Race audiences at popular venues have visibly fallen this year as promoters have to raise the cost of tickets to meet Ecclestone?s fearsome prices. And there?s little sign of crowd growth at F1?s new venues such as Bahrain or Turkey.

Promoting F1 will remain difficult while the quality of racing in the sport is poor – something the changes to the aerodynamics and tyre regulations next year will hopefully improve.

Succession plans

Presumably when Ecclestone moves on (or passes on) control of F1 will be taken up by CVC Capital Partners. But how will commercial decisions be taken? It’s not clear.

Do you think Ecclestone has done a good job of managing F1 over the past 12 months? What about things he has done that aren’t on this list, such as pushing for the formation of the Formula One Teams’ Association? And what should be his priorities for the next 12 months?

Read the original post: Ten things for Bernie Ecclestone to do

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Ten jobs for Ecclestone – one year on”

  1. Here in Canada we’ve had the hi-def broadcast for the past two years which has been a vast improvement, but I would still pay extra for an advert-free feed.

  2. Great post-lots of good topics to work on.

  3. My top tip for Bernie for the next twelve months would be keep up the (mostly) good work.

    The sport, to me, seems to be improving as a spectacle, with more exciting races, more interesting drivers and a nice bunch of circuits to pick and choose. He needs to keep the focus on the racing and out of the politics.

  4. you forgot Bernie’s main job.

    making lot’s of money for Mr B. Ecclestone.

  5. I can not believe that Britain could possibly lose it’s G.P…I don’t think that would happen but,I also never considered F1 would be taken from one of it’s biggest markets.

    BRING F1 BACK TO THE U.S.A.!!!( I mean it Bernie! )

  6. I’m with you every step of the way on the USGP Wesley- keep up the support and hopefully we’ll all be enjoying it very soon. And to build on that topic, Bernie can do a great deal of good for the success of the USGP and F1 in America by making a few simple statements about the importance of the American market. Over the past few years, Bernie has had several memorable negative remarks about the US market for F1- a few kind and cooperative words from him would go a long way towards building and expanding the U.S. fanbase for F1.

    The topic of securing the future of the British GP is vitally important to the well-being of F1. While Donnington apparently has plans in place, I still don’t feel good about the race having a secure home after next season, and if things don’t develop and a future F1 calendar dosen’t ahve a British GP, it will indeed be a tragety. Great Britain is the epicenter of Formula 1, and Bernie surley must ensure the future of the event for the good of everyone involved in the sport.

  7. On the topic of the 20-race calendar, I follow the lead of Bernie, as well as most fans, of being all in support of it and more. In my view, the key issue is not the number of GPs, but how Bernie and his people plan out the season. Start things earlier in the season and match up obvious races- Bahrain and Abu Dhabi- on flyaways, for example. Second, in addition to bringing back the USGP, don’t forget more traditional destinations for revival- South Africa, Portugal(which has a brand-new F1-spec circuit), Aregentina(if someone comes up with a good venue) and Mexico can all get a shot.

    I think we can all agree on the website developments and hi-def broadcast signals- these are the key mediums of access for nearly every fan, and developing a top-notch operation in this aspect is critical for growing the international F1 fanbase. I should note that this also includes FOM allowing some F1 videos of some sort to be posted on YouTube- even if they set a cut-off date where no footage from before that season can be posted.

    Finally, it’s great news for all fans that a new F1 video game is in the works. The one point I should stress about it is that the game MUST be sold in the U.S.- we went from the 2001 to 2006 versions of the game without it being sold here, and and not having the new game on our shelves will be a massive mistake. I’ve talked about this on here before, but the outstanding early-90’s F1 game Super Monaco GP for Sega Genensis was how I was introduced to F1 in 1991, and while I diden’t start to follow the sport until 2007, it gave me an appreciation for it for all those years leading up to me catching the F1 bug. The new F1 game can do the same for thousands of other Americans, so let’s see it on our shelves!!

  8. On the whole I think Ecclestone is doing a reasonably good job, and that Formula One is in a healthy condition. I would love to see more up to date material online though, including more ‘full races’ that had already been broadcast on tv.
    The more exposure the better as far as I am concerned.
    As far as Silverstone goes, I cannot see Bernie dropping it from the calender, but I can not see it improving too much either. It really needs government funding to get the facilities up to Chinese, or Bahrain type standards. You can’t expect a private enterprise to invest $100 to $200 million without there being some incentive.
    I have nothing against Donington Park, but the track itself, as far as I am concerned is not as exciting as Silverstone.
    I am confident that the U.S Grand Prix will return, and I hope to another track other than Indianapolis. All in all, I think Bernie has it covered.

  9. The comment at the start of this article is most relevent – Max reads the blogs but Bernie doesn’t. Max might actually care about what the fans want, but Bernie just thinks about Bernie (and maybe CVC).
    Perhaps Keith could find a way to send our comments to the FOM PR people? I know you have links from here to other blogs and websites – get the word out that Mr Ecclestone REALLY needs to pay attention to the fans, or all his high-cost schemes (ie Singapore Night Races) might not be so worthwhile. Perhaps a boycott of F1.com would stir things up, and ignore FOM press releases. (I’m sure they must be mostly about Bernie anyway).
    This is probably too radical for us laid-back F1 fans, but something needs to be done to get our point of view across…..

  10. I am not sure of the work this would require, but the next best thing to the Monaco GP would be a USGP through the streets of Vegas. How about right down the strip? Someone out there has to have the coin to make it happen.

    1. Good idea ! Vegas would be cool, plus its not that far away from L.A. so it would have a good crowd. Excellent !
      They could have a special grandstand with people betting on the outcome of the race, with brokers with a cigar and fistloads of money going up and down the stands !
      Seriously, Las vegas could be a good venue

      As for the rest, all good points by Keith, but I have to admit that I have given up on Bernie, specially at this late hour of the night so I will say my prayers and go to bed good night to all !

  11. For me, point 10 hits the nail on the head – succession. After all, Mr Ecclestone is 77 years old, which is quite an age to be at the head of a vast business empire.

    When a sport is so dependent on one man, when that man is nearly 80, and when it is not clear what he intends the future of his business to be, then surely that has major implications? For investors, if for no-one else?

    It’s always puzzled me that this isn’t more of a widely-discussed issue – and it makes me wonder if the BRDC’s stoical attitude about losing the British GP is partly based on knowing that they won’t have the Bernie problem in a decade’s time (apologies if this sounds callous).

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